I find Berlin special. The city suffered a lot in the past century, nowadays it’s a modern and vibrant city that is growing every day. Berlin is also very green, i really like this city, because of the fact that it feels a bit different to me. I think it’s safe to say that Berlin deserves a spot in my top 3 of city trips so far.
How I spent my 5 days in Berlin
Berlin is really big! For me the city’s history is important to know before you start exploring. That’s why I started with a free tour at Brandenburger Tor. This tour will show you around in das Mitte, the center of Berlin. My guide, Francesca (sorry if I write it wrong) was filled with enthusiasm! She got my attention from the first second. She covered Berlins history with interesting facts and anecdotes. She wasn’t afraid to give her own critical opinion, and really started the thinking process in the group. Best tour I ever had!
Since the tour started at Brandenburger Tor, this was also the first stop of the tour, well we hadn’t even started yet. This is really the landmark and symbol of Berlin. I expected it to be bigger though.
In Berlin you can find many memorials, but probably the biggest one is the Memorial of the Murdered Jews of Europe. , If you first look at it, let’s be honest, it’s not that you would say wow nice, pretty, moving. Our guide instructed us to walk trough it, to feel and experience the monument, which it was meant for.
Once I ended up on the other side, the Memorial got a whole different meaning. Do you notice how the monument makes you walk in lines? My guide said. Well yes indeed! What else? It gave me the chills, literally. When you come to the middle, the blocks are so high you don’t get any sunlight, it becomes chilly. Some people said the blocks reminded them of coffins. You also sort of feel like you are in a maze.
The creator of the monument never really explained what his intention were. It’s really up to you and me, to ‘feel’ the monument. If you ever come here, I would say take your time, and take it in!
We were moving on, when we suddenly stopped at a parking lot. I was thinking that we had a tea break or something. Underneath that parking lot is Hitlers Bunker, Ah ok, no tea. The city of Berlin decided not to open up the bunker for the public.
Potsdammer Platz is a very modern place, there was a marathon or something going on so it was very busy! I had trouble keeping up with the group. In Berlin you sometimes have to look down. The place where the Wall used to be is marked all over the city, like that you can see how weird the wall sometimes was. Anything but straight!
We took the actual tea break at a piece of the Berlin Wall, near the Topographie des terrors. Something about the wall was different from what I had in mind. For starters no graffiti, second, it wasn’t that high! But it was constructed in a way it was hard to get over, and if you did guards were expecting you.
We arrived at a very touristic spot Checkpoint Charlie. Honestly, I find it totally overrated. For starters the border passage that you see is not even the authentic one. You can find it in the museum nearby. Secondly, I really don’t like the view of some actors asking money to get a pic with them. It’s all a bit phony.
Our last stops were Gendarmenmarkt and Babelsplatz. Both very pretty, they give you an idea of the historic city of Berlin. The tour lasts approximately 2,5 hours. She left us with a few things to think about. We must be aware of what is happening, of the influences we get!
I decided to go back to the Memorial, my guide told me underneath can be found a free exposition, which is also part of the memorial.
Sleeping and food
I rented an Airbnb apartment, which wasn’t expensive at all and very good! The advantage of having an own kitchen is of course that you save a lot on food aswell. Nearby is a shopping center, when you go to level -1 you’ll find a big supermarket. You can park your car for free in the street if you have one. Be aware to avoid the center with your car, I believe you need to pay a tax if you drive there.
You have two U-bahn (subway) stations nearby. Berlin is very big. I could do everything from my itinerary by using the U- and S- Bahn. Even Potsdam and Sachsenhausen! If you are with more than 2 persons I advice you to take a group ticket, this is cheaper than getting individual ones per day. If you are staying in Berlin you get yourself the AB ticket. this is 7 euros a day. The one for a small group is 17,30. If you go outside of Berlin, for instance to Potsdamn take the (A)BC ticket (7,60 and 17,80). A week ticket is 37,20 (ABC). More information: go to this site
I made this trip during the Easter holiday in April 2016.